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Professor Greenway posits agape as moral common ground in struggle for global justice

In his newest book, Reasonable Faith for a Post-Secular Age (Cascade, 2020), Professor of Philosophical Theology William Greenway argues there is an unrecognized, but real and potent, common core of global spiritual understanding shared by religious and secular communities. He claims that naming and affirming this core reality—the reality of agape—offers us our best chance as we face multiple global crises in the 21st century.

      “Across the world we face extreme and growing economic inequalities … conflict-driven mass migrations … [and] epoch-level species and habitat lost. … For the first time in history, these challenges are rising on a global scale,” writes Greenway. “Good people from diverse secular and religious institutions fight these challenges to creaturely flourishing in a multitude of concrete ways … The vast majority share a common understanding of what is reasonable and respond to essentially the same love. But the reality of this common spiritual ground is largely invisible. The transition to a global village sharing a common language has been achieved in the natural and social sciences. … I believe that a common understanding of a spiritual dimension of reality is shared by multitudes across faith traditions and cultures … and I argue that naming this shared spiritual reality is vital for the flourishing of life on earth.”

      Greenway writes as a Christian, but he argues that virtually all faith traditions, from Buddhism to Humanism to Wiccan, are rooted in agape—the reality of finding oneself seized by love for others. He illustrates how the moral reality of agape also rests at the heart of the ethics of those who are secular. Greenway explains how the “philosophical distinctions between secular metaphysics and the metaphysics of the world’s great faith traditions have collapsed,” and urges us to see this as a promising development, because it opens up interfaith and intercultural moral common ground, unveiling a basis for united ethical struggle against life-threatening global challenges.

            In his endorsement of the book, Keith Ward, former Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, says: “This set of essays is a penetrating philosophical critique of philosophical naturalism and a defense of a more open concept of rationality that is able to take religion seriously. A very important contribution to debates about philosophy, metaphysics, and faith.”

            This is William Greenways’ fifth book; others include For the Love of All Creatures: The Story of Grace in Genesis (Eerdmans, 2015), A Reasonable Belief: Why God and Faith Make Sense (Westminster John Knox, 2015), The Challenge of Evil: Grace and the Problem of Suffering (Westminster John Knox, 2016), and Agape Ethics: Moral Realism and Love for All Life (Cascade Books, 2017). The Academy of Parish Clergy, Inc. selected his book For the Love of All Creatures: The Story of Grace in Genesis as one of the Top Ten Books for Parish Ministry published in 2015.